People often ask me how my husband Hank and I met, so I thought I would sit down and tell this story not just for the inquirers, but so we always have this tucked away somewhere, to always remember how we began.
The summer of 2004 was a crazy one for me. I had just graduated college and was living in Scottsdale with my best friends, Autumn and Shirley. Throughout that summer I'd dated many different boys in my old, usual fashion of never wanting to be tied down. After an annoying run of annoying guys, I decided that I would become "anti-relationship/pro-friendship." And yes, I actually used this ridiculous term to describe myself many a-times. I was sick of guys, and meeting guys who would eventually turn out to be too "something," so I figured if I just decided to be friends instead of date I would enjoy myself a lot more. Of course as fate would have it, usually the minute you utter something like this, exactly what you're not looking for, comes knocking on your door...
My friend John had just gotten back from tour with his band, Where Eagles Dare. He had just gotten home, and I had gone over right from a workout, so I was not looking my best. I didn't care though, because I was just happy to see my dear friend after he had been all over the country for some time. We hung out for awhile, watched some television, when he said that our friend Jaesyn and their friend Hank had to stop by to get Jaesyn's tattoo book out of the tour van. This mystery man Hank had also just gotten back from touring with his band, Life in Pictures, and was going to get tattooed by Jaesyn. I decided I would stay inside when John asked me if I wanted to come out and meet Hank. I even sarcastically said something along the lines of, "What kind of name is 'Hank' anyway? No thanks." Yikes. So I sat in the comfort of glorious air conditioning on that hot August afternoon, when suddenly felt like I had to go outside; like I should go outside. I remember getting up, walking to the door, walking down the walkway, walking up to my friends...walking...and suddenly and seriously feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me as I looked at this tall, tattooed, curly-headed boy with the most beautiful brown eyes. The rest of this meeting was completely in slow motion. I said hello to Jaesyn and then "Danielle, do you know Hank?" "No, but nice to meet you." Slow-motion handshake. "Nice to meet you too, Danielle." I was in a fog, a haze, my brain felt like molasses. I didn't even know what to make of it. Later Hank would tell me that he felt the exact same thing, that in his gut something was saying this is it, this is the one- however unrecognizable that notion was at the time.
I went back inside and didn't say a word about that odd, lingering feeling. I went home shortly after and didn't think too much about it- I hung out with Autumn and Shirley, made some dinner, did our usual routine. That night Hank's band was playing a show at The Modified- the same show some of my girlfriends and I were releasing issue #1 of our then zine, Broad. I got there a little late, and was outside of the venue, to the right of the building in the dirt parking lot, when Hank walked by, grabbed my forearms and quickly, breathlessly and in one sentence said "Hi wow it's good to see you again we're running really late and just got here from Prescott but I hope you watch our set." And he was off. I hadn't watched his band before, and even with all of our mutual friends, I'd somehow never met him or heard of him. It was truly bizarre we didn't know each other, and looking back we had so many near-meets, including when his band played in my freshman dorms at NAU. I can recall walking through the lobby of Sechrist Hall during this time, and even remember his band playing. Odd. But back to The Modified, I'm embarrassed to admit that although I told Hank I would watch his set, I never went inside to do so, and once we were dating he told me he was looking around for me as he played and knew I hadn't come in to watch. Oops. I couldn't stick around to talk to him afterward, so I left pretty soon after he played.
A couple of days later I logged into Myspace to see a message waiting from Hank. Due to his cross-country touring, over the next couple of weeks we messaged novels back and forth to each other. I still have every letter that was sent, and they are absolutely amazing to read over. Through those weeks we got to know each other quite well and I knew we had a really special connection. He kept wanting to talk on AIM, but I really didn't want to because I knew once that happened, our letter writing days could possibly be over, and I truly loved them. So I consistently avoided giving him my AIM name whenever he would ask. Finally he said something about my avoidance so I begrudgingly gave it to him. That night he messaged me, but I was completely take aback when he was weird and unresponsive. After getting over the initial disappointment, I told him I had to go. He asked for my number and said he would call me in ten minutes. At this point it was probably around 9pm. I gave him my phone number. 9:10 came and went, as did 9:30, 10, 11, even midnight. I went to sleep, but was woken up around 1am by a phone call from an unknown 928 area code, and a voice saying "Ahh I hope I didn't wake you up, are you asleep?" He apologized a million times and explained some dramatic story about an ex-girlfriend and another ex-girlfriend having some issue with each other, having to do with him (looking back on this, seriously hilarious). We ended up talking until 4am about everything and anything, and he decided, at 4am, to drive down to Phoenix that very next evening to take me on a date.
The entire next day I was a ball of nervous excitement. This guy, who I had a total crush on, was driving four hours round trip to take me out on a date! I was ecstatic that he wanted to make that effort. We decided to meet at Veggie House, a vegan restaurant in Phoenix. I remember exactly what both of us were wearing. Me- a polka dot skirt with a white top tucked in, and blue ballet flats. Him- a Give Up The Ghost hoodie, jeans and vans. It's all still vivid in my mind. I remember how nervous we both were (later Hank would tell me this was his actual "first date" ever!). We had such an amazing dinner. Great conversation, wonderful food at a place we both considered our favorite restaurant. After dinner we took my car over to Harkins Camelview to see Garden State. Hank still teases me to this day about what an adamant non-soda drinker I was, yet kept stealing sips from his Dr. Pepper. I still blame it on nervous social-drinking! After the movie we went to IHOP to meet our mutual friends for a quick hangout, then we headed back to Veggie House, where we had left his car. We didn't kiss goodbye, and although this was better, I was so used to typically always kissing on the first date if I liked someone (tsk, tsk) that I was a bit let down. I drove home and went to bed, a little unsure about the whole thing.
When I woke up the next morning I was greeted with a long, long Myspace message from Hank, about what a great time he had on our date and how he couldn't wait to see me again. I'll never forget that feeling in my stomach when I realized that this was a mutual "like," and the guy that I was so into was so into me, and had no problem telling me.
Time started to go quickly here. I made a trip up to Prescott, we shared our first dreamy kiss on his bedroom floor. We became an official "couple" towards the beginning of October, and I still remember walking into our first show together at The Brickhouse, holding hands. It was neat to watch him play a set that night, before Converge went on, and thinking, "that's my boyfriend." We continued to spend more and more time together. It was easier for me to go up to Prescott, as Hank had band practice every night, and his father didn't care if I stayed over for days at a time. We spent almost an entire year doing the long distance thing, until the following August when we decided I should make the move to Prescott. That winter, while living in our first teeny tiny apartment downtown, sharing a twin bed and snuggling close when the heater would often break, he gave me a pink sapphire and diamond promise ring. He definitely kept his promise.
I feel lucky that I somehow met my one true love in this big, wide world. Thinking back to our story, looking through old photos, it's crazy to me to think that those young people were us at one point. We've been through a lot of life changes over the past almost six years, and I'm incredibly thankful that because we've been together for so long and since we were quite young, we've grown up and together, rather than up and apart. I will forever cherish those first special months of new love- those butterflies that still reappear today, the long phone calls when we lived apart, the letters and postcards sent via mail. I will always find comfort in knowing this is it for me, and I will always find happiness in retelling our story.
Thank you for reading!